08 April 2020
Below you will find a brief update on the policy context for London Youth members in the light of COVID-19. You can find specific COVID-19 resources, including links to emergency funding and official guidance, on our page here.
Impact on the youth sector
Like every other part of society, COVID-19 is likely to have a significant and sustained impact on the youth sector. This update largely focuses on the immediate question of the financial health of community youth organisations, but it’s important not to overlook the significant impact on young people themselves. Complex and entrenched social problems like serious violence, youth unemployment, mental health and wellbeing, poverty and deprivation, and racial disparities will likely be exacerbated by the health crisis and the economic impact that will follow.
Commons Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee
The Commons DCMS Committee held a meeting via video conference on the impact of COVID-19 on the charity sector. Karl Wilding, Chief Executive of NCVO, gave oral evidence on the health of VCSE organisations:
- NCVO estimate that charities are facing a £4.3 billion gap in funding over a 12 week period, largely because of the suspension of trading activity and the impact on public fundraising and challenge events. This figure is orders of magnitude larger than both the £11 million National Emergencies Trust and the £40 million support package for the sector in 2008.
- Without support, they warn of the collapse of many charities with only 25% of charities having reserves to operate for 3 months and that smaller organisations are particularly vulnerable.
- The Government has helped charities by relaxing Charity Commission governance rules and deadlines and with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. However, they warn that furloughing staff through the scheme will not work for many charities.
- They are calling for a large stabilisation fund specifically for the sector that charities can apply to for financial support. They also argue that charities should also be able to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Small Business Grants, as well as for changes to the job retention scheme to allow furloughed staff to volunteer for their own charity.
London Plus has surveyed London’s charity sector on how they’ve been impacted. Their findings include:
- 43% of organisations report cases of staff self-isolating due to coronavirus symptoms.
- 80% say the pandemic has significantly impacted their organisation’s capacity to deliver its services, up from 29% two weeks ago.
- 45% of respondents were extremely concerned about the financial impact of COVID-19 on the voluntary sector, up from 15% two weeks ago.
The response to COVID-19
While the Government has moved quickly to support other parts of society, there is still no package of support specifically for charities.
The primary form of support available to charities currently is through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which allows all employers to ‘furlough’ non-essential staff and be reimbursed by HMRC for 80% of wages. This will not work for many charities, particularly those who are impacted financially but are also seeing an increase in demand for their services.
The majority of public financial support that is available to charities is through DCMS’s three arms-length bodies: the National Lottery Community Fund, Arts Council England, and Sport England. The approximately £600 million that they have pledged is extremely welcome but will not work for all organisations.
We support a range of lobbying campaigns currently underway to push the Government for further support:
- NCVO and other national charity sector bodies have used the #EveryDayCounts campaign to call for urgent charity sector support.
- The Back Youth coalition of national youth organisations has called for a similar package specifically for the youth sector.
- The DCMS Committee has questioned DCMS over the availability of emergency funding for the charity sector, among other issues.
- Over 300 MPs have signed an open letter to the Government requesting more government support for charities.
- The Mayor has called for the Government to urgently support London’s voluntary sector.
Mayor of London / GLA
The Mayor leads the London Resilience Partnership, which has been leading the response in London. This response has largely focused on urgent issues caused by COVID-19, such as food security for vulnerable groups, but we expect there to be future work to coordinate local borough responses.
As above, the Mayor has called on the Chancellor and the Minister for London to urgently support the voluntary sector through the London Community Response Fund, to which he has contributed £1 million.
London’s funders have responded rapidly COVID-19, thanks especially to London Funders’ leadership. They created a pledge for funders to show flexibility and understanding with the organisations they fund.
They are also leading the £8+ million London Community Response Fund, which has become the central, pooled source of emergency funding in London.
How can we help?
We are engaging with funders and other key stakeholders about protecting and supporting London’s youth sector during this unprecedented situation. We can do this more effectively if you tell us how you’ve been impacted and the type of support you need most.